Aphrodite

aphrodite

Come closer, look at the mirror.

I want you to see beyond those freckles

on your face, those little wrinkles around your eyes,

that grey hair above your left ear,

beyond those curvy heaps and shrunk shoulders.

You are beauty in all its appearances, shapes and forms.

You are light and love.

You are here to accept and give tremendous gift

of your pure divine, sensual, imperfect and unique

self.

Be you and the world seduced with the fragrance

of your truth will crawl under your feet.

Maja S. Todorovic


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Athena

You are warrior of kindness.

Your  courage is your sword and

persistence is your shield.

You bravely walk through life

and with  owl-like wise eyes

you observe and admire the world.

 

Embrace this wisdom:

don’t be afraid to spread the wings

of your own powerful potential.

Maja S. Todorovic

Poetry as an act of prayer, ritual and belief: the case of Slavic Mythology

Nordic, Greek and Roman mythologies are very well known and explored in literature – through science fiction and poetry writing, from anthropological, religious and ethnological point of view. Old Slavic mythology is lesser known and popular, yet very rich in folktales, rituals, mythological creatures. It was a part of the belief system that Old Slavs treasured and celebrated: a multi-theist system of Gods, spirits and “lower beings” that influenced each part of their lives. To old Slavs their Gods are the founts of life, power and happiness. Gods, worshiped for millennia gave the meaning to existence, and protective notion to old Slavs. They were celebrated through rituals and songs – similar to many indigenous traditions.

In some remote Balkan regions, these rituals and songs are still present. Probably due to the reason that when old Slavs adopted Christianity, many of the old, Pagan customs found their place in the new belief system, just disguised under another name and purpose. My father, for example used to tell me about the songs and customs that were performed in his village during spring and summer – because peasants believed that it will influence the yield of the harvest and that it will help them to ‘cheer up’ the will of the Gods (like God Perun, that governed thunders and fire). In order to invoke the rain villagers would perform ritual: a girl, called do-do-la wearing a skirt made of fresh green knitted vines and small branches, sings and dances through the streets of the village, stopping at every house, where the hosts sprinkle water on her.

Following and celebrating religious holidays actually still impacts agricultural activities in many Balkan regions.

This poem I wrote below “Raingirl” was inspired by the ‘dodola’ ritual:

The face of the Earth is crunched,

wrinkled in furrows

burrows, like mouths are widely open

towards the sky with prayer for dull clouds.

Bodies of trees are broken and bowed.

Meadows bald,

leafs curled in sears, in the color of hell.

Some of animals can be seen

soulless, crouching on their celebrity red carpets

dreaming of rain.

It’s time for a Raingirl.

You will recognize her as a young maid,

dressed in rugs, with wreath around her head

adorned with wheat, flowers and grass.

Barefoot she would walk across the village,

her long hair trotting after her. She dances

and sings dow-down-la, dow-down-la while

milking her heavenly cows.

An orphan, as such adored among hearths.

Sometimes she would fly over woods and fields,

to awaken blossoms and green parchments,

as messaged by the God of Thunder.

As first drops appear, tree hands, grass blades, uprooted sinews

unroll their palms, tongues,

tired of summer soberness

in hope to imbibe a little bit of milk.

Raingirl smiles and as she suddenly appeared

in same fashion she evanesces in the mist

with her downy flock.

When we will see a raingirl again?

Once the Sun becomes this angry, heavy. In pain.

Our ancestors, not only in Slavic traditions believed that songs and poems do have a tremendous power to help us sustain even the most difficult times – that type of strength we still can nourish inside ourselves.

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Harnessing the power of mythology: 3 ways to enrich your storytelling

mythology

Myths are stories; stories narrated for a thousands of years, having life of their own in our minds and subconsciousness. They are reflection of our belief system, an eternal fight between evil and good, a struggle for achieving beyond perceived, understood and obvious. Mythology can relate to many religious rituals as well, where in the form of songs, poems and stories was used as a vehicle to explain to younger generations how people acquired speech, fire, grain, wine, oil, honey, agriculture, metalwork, and other skills and arts.

In mythology everything is possible: existence of Gods, Goddesses, beings with supernatural powers and humans taking traits that makes them larger than life and heroes in our minds. For example, Parson Weems created a myth about George Washington in the story of the cherry tree, describing an event that never took place, but used to illustrate the moral behavior of a young George.

parson-weemss-fable-amon-carter-museum-of-american-2

Parson Weem’s Fable (Amon Carter Museum of American Art)

Many crafts, like astrology use the power of mythological creatures and language of symbolism to emphasize the archetypes of human nature, where even the heavenly bodies take on the roles of Gods, and as they “dance” in the sky they “plot” the scenes of our life events.

Mythology was a communicating medium among indigenous people, as it can be found in ancient texts and it is foundation  upon which modern culture has been built.

But this is not where the power of mythology stops. It’s well established in the modern western cultures as classical scholar and professor Elizabeth Vandiver claims: Star Wars, Star Trek and other similar stories are myths as authentic as those found in Hesiod, Homer, and Ovid. They have the elements of classical mythological tales and are so engraved within our culture, that metaphors and psychological profiles defined, we often use in our everyday life as a reference.

And look at poetry:

Leda and the Swan by W. B. Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

 

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

 

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Yeats’s poem was inspired by a Greek myth about Zeus and Leda, the daughter of a king named Thestius. Zeus disguised as a swan seduces Leda and takes advantage of her. In the poem this event Yeats in every, tiny detail described very powerfully. And as we know how the myth continues, Leda gets pregnant and gives birth to Helen of Troy.

Many men were enchanted by the Helen’s beauty and she becomes abducted  by a young man named Paris that led to the Battle of Troy, the centerpiece of Homer’s Iliad. Yeats’s poem hides between the verses a drama that takes place in the tragic fall of Troy; it illustrates familiarity that Yeats had with artistic story of Leda and the swan, retold  by sculptors and painters like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci.

This poem was written in the same year Yeats was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1923. Here, he poses the question of predominant misuse of power and how an apocalyptic consequence that might have, beyond the possibility of what our mind can conceive.

So, in a nutshell, mythological approach to storytelling can help us:

  • convey the message on diversity, especially looked from the perspectives of cultural backgrounds;
  • argument the importance of ethical approach in business and other types of relationships;
  • make story more “alive”, entertaining as people like myths: it captivates their attention and ignites imagination, lifting their experience to the level of adventure and pleasant uncertainty.

Let your story become a myth.